Developmental antecedents of political ideology: a longitudinal investigation from birth to age 18 years

Psychol Sci. 2012;23(11):1425-31. doi: 10.1177/0956797612440102. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


The study reported here examined the developmental antecedents of conservative versus liberal ideologies using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development and a follow-up study conducted when the sample was 18 years old. Specifically, we examined variation in conservative versus liberal ideologies at age 18 years as a function of parenting attitudes and child temperament during the first 5 years of life. Consistent with long-standing theories on the development of political attitudes, our results showed that parents' authoritarian attitudes assessed when children were 1 month old predicted conservative attitudes in those children more than 17 years later. Consistent with the findings of Block and Block (2006), our results also showed that early childhood temperament predicted variation in conservative versus liberal ideologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality*
  • Politics*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Class
  • Temperament